The Brittas Empire – The Complete Series Two

Honestly. You wait for twelve years for The Brittas Empire to be released, and then two DVDs come in three months. Cuh!

Eureka Video have once again come good with a lovely little two-disc set, containing all seven episodes from the second series – Back From The Dead, Temple Of The Body, An Inspector Calls, Set In Concrete, Mums and Dads, Safety First and New Generations. Yes folks, this was the first series where the episodes were officially individually named. Hurrah!

It is with the second series that Brittas really began to kick-off, and it was the first time the show really pushed the boundries of sit-com. Carole began more eccentric, Helen became more depressed, Gavin and Tim’s relationship became more subversive and Colin became more, well, repulsive. Brittas himself also became much more of a monster. In Safety First, he inadvertantly destroys Carole’s dreams, drives his wife into deep depression and seriously injures fourteen people. The series progressed visually too, with a massive great fire in the same episode.

There were also a number of very touching moments, performed brilliantly by the cast. There’s the creepy atmosphere of Back From The Dead, in which we hear news of Brittas’s first reported death; Jim Brittas’s beaming pride in Mums and Dads; Brittas’s despondancy when he fears his job is under threat in An Inspector Calls; and the lovely, warm ending to New Generations.

Once again, the picture quality is lovely, clearly benefitting from the spreading out of seven episodes over two discs. Although, it does seem a little silly to have four episodes plus extras on one disc, and only three episodes on the other. Still, the menus are excellent this time around. You take a walk through Whitbury New Town Leisure Centre, using a clipboard for navigation. This is quite inventive, and jolly good fun. The scene selection is similar in concept to the forthcoming Red Dwarf III and IV DVDs; we’ll leave GNP and Eureka Video to fight about which came first.

Once again, the extras are far from spectacular (with one exception). This is understandable; Eureka Video are only a small company, working with a limited budget and very little input from Auntie. However, the quiz is quite nice, and the stills gallery and Philippa Haywood profile seem fairly full. The main extra, however, is the GMTV ‘interview’, as it is advertised on the packaging. This doesn’t do it justice – it’s a full-blown behind-the-scenes featurette. John Leslie takes us on a tour of the set, bumping into the likes of Julia St John, Harriet Thorpe, Phillipa Haywood and, of course, one Christopher Brown. This must have taken some tracking down, and we applaud Eureka’s efforts.

The packaging is similar to that of the first series, but with everything tinted purple, as opposed to red. There’s a nice detailed blurb on the back, plus a full cast list for each episode on the inside. There is, however, a glaring printing error on the chapter listing – the chapter points for Mums and Dads and New Generations have been swapped round. Tsk! Nevertheless, this is another lovely release, and all that remains is for me to point out how great it is to have Brittas on shiny disc, as it’s severely under-rated, etc. You’ll get the message eventually.

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